- Category: Volume 88 (Fall 2016 - Spring 2017)
- Published: 29 March 2017
- Written by KAAN JON BOZTEPE | STAFF WRITER
If there has ever been a time when you felt bad for not saying or doing something, do not worry, we have all been there.
New Yorkers have noticed this problem and created “The Accompany Project.” The Huffington Post describes the plan as a program put in place to prepare you for situations where anti-Muslim violence and threats occur. The project was created in New York after recent events of vandalism, racist graffiti, death threats, and chanting of white superiority occurred. The project hopes to teach bystanders when to step in and how to help others.
We are all one, this is our nation, and we must be prepared to protect those who are inappropriately being terrorized and harassed. Confrontation can be difficult for anybody no matter how confident they presume to be, but we must speak up and go hand-in-hand with a person that is dealing with any backlash that we have been seeing as a nation.
Scott Panzera, a freshman accounting student, said, “I think defense classes to fight back against racism are a great idea. Racism is, unfortunately, a major issue that takes place all over the world. People have every right to stand up for what they believe in. No one deserves to be treated differently just because of how they look or their culture.
Nobody is perfect and our society today needs to understand that. If people do not accept others for who they are and what they believe in, racism will always continue to be a worldwide problem.”
It is more important now than ever to recognize that America is a melting pot. That we, the United States of America, should boast on how amazing it is to have a piece of every country, culture, religion, and race all in one country rather than to detest it. People travel the world simply to culture themselves and educate themselves on the beauty within each culture. Normalizing hateful rhetoric and behavior is not acceptable under any circumstance and New Yorkers are taking a stand. They have held bystander interventions from Harlem to Sunnyside, and over 500 New Yorkers have already attended within a short span of three months.
Nicholas Vail-Stein, a freshman software engineering student, believes that the implementation of these defense classes is positive, “We still have people that flaunt mindless racism and teaching people how to approach those with prejudices may yield positive results for all parties. There are a lot of factors to consider keeping all discussions of the topic civil and hopefully the classes will maintain opposition through peaceful means as a main goal. Overall, I support those who wish to speak out for what they perceive as wrong,” he said.
Vail-Stein touched upon the importance of being civil and maintaining one’s composure to avoid not stooping down to the oppressor’s level, and rather fight peacefully with their words while others begin to support them.
Frank Cipriani, an instructor of world languages and cultures, shared his meaning of bigotry. “Racism is a germ of fear cultivated in a petri dish of ignorance. But it also has its origins in a longing to belong to something distinct group, some urge for tribal identity.”
Cipriani recognizes that some might be bashing Muslims due to the belief that their morality is not universal, and is not logical to those that do not practice their faith.
“Using ‘I’ statements, aids the victim in moving the attacker beyond that collective identity of ‘other’ and back into a more empathetic frame. The most powerful part of standing up for others is that the hooligan imagines that the inaction of bystanders may signal an unspoken support of the attack.
If the motivation of the attacker is to belong, the best thing bystanders can do is show that they, along with the victim, are on the same team and that the racist is marginalizing himself by his position,” said Cipriani.
Since Sept. 11, 2001, not a single country that the current administration views as a threat has inflicted any harm on the American people. The Syrian refugees who are doing everything to escape their oppressing government now have visa issues due to the multiple screenings and on again off again ban administered by President Trump and his cabinet. Steve Bannon, the White House Chief Strategist, is controlling and constructing the controversial ban. Under the current administration, as American citizens all we can do is come together and work to protect the rights of all citizens.
The Accompany Project in New York is preparing individuals to combat racial tensions within the current cultural climate by preparing them with multiple scenarios. Across the Hudson River, here at Monmouth University, the increasingly diverse campus aims towards creating a climate of acceptance for all students. The campus is a small example of the efforts that those throughout the world have made to protect ethnically diverse individuals, as seen in The Accompany Project. The campus has hosted several protests and events to represent the interests and rights of each and every student.
We cannot stand for normalizing such horrific actions and will not allow the term “land of the free” die out. Many supporters hope that this organization will spread nationwide to assist people in speaking out for one another.
Together, we can silence the backwards minded individuals and stand united for all people no matter their religion, race, ethnicity or cultural beliefs.
IMAGE TAKEN from Arab American Association of New York